Monday, January 30, 2012

Facing It

The right course for anyone who cannot accept the mere voice of authority, but feels the imperative obligation to face the arguments and think freely, is to begin at the beginning and to see how far one can reconstruct one's case for belief in God, inference by inference on a secure foundation of irreducibly basic premises, as far as possible without any preliminary assumptions and with a resolute determination to know the worst.

--Highly redacted from Flew, A. G. N. God: A Critical Inquiry (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1984) page 14.

Idol of the Circular

Christian theology without metaphysics is an illusion. However much some theologians may want to avoid the issue by talking about revelation, there comes a point when the question can no longer be evaded: Why believe in God at all? If the only grounds for belief in the Christian revelation are part of that alleged revelation, the theologians have cut themselves off from people who think about their beliefs. If there are no grounds for believing that a Christian scheme is preferable to some non-Christian one, the choice between Christianity and some other religion or none becomes arbitrary, irrational, even trivial.

--Slightly redacted from H. E. Root, "Beginning all over again" in Soundings, edited by A. R. Vidler (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1962), page 13, quoted in Flew, A. G. N. God: A Critical Inquiry (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1984) page 13.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why They're Already Gone

The types of questions which public school children ask cannot be answered satisfactorily by anyone who is not capable of answering them philosophically, because they are precisely those kinds of questions which modern philosophers ask.

--Redacted from John Wilson, Language and Christian Belief (London: Macmillan, 1958) page xiv. Quoted in Flew, A. G. N. God: A Critical Inquiry (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1984) page 12.

Unintended Consequences

To the extent that faith has to be thought of as going beyond all reason, in the sense that it has to involve believing what you do not, and perhaps cannot know to be true, then if faith is to be reasonable at all, there must still be reasons of some kind, first for embarking on faith at all, and then again for choosing one faith rather than any other faith.

--Slightly redacted from Antony Flew, God: A Critical Inquiry (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1984) page 8.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Courage to Attack One's Own Convictions

"It is, of course, a matter of integrity and sincerity of intellectual purpose to try to make out all cases as strongly as possible. For, if we truly desire to learn the truth, then we must consider opposition positions at their strongest. That is why we have in our courts of justice rival advocates each doing the best they can for, respectively, plaintiff and defendant."

--Antony Flew (40 years before his conversion to Deism), God and Philosophy, 1966, page x.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Schopenhauer's Lightning Eliminator Method

Need some philosophical rejuvenation? Do this:

1. Go to the beginning of the philosophy section of a large university library (or the largest you can get to).
2. Open the first book.
3. Read the first 2 pages of either the introduction or of the first chapter if there's no introduction.

4. Go to the next book.
5. Return to step 3.
6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you've worked through the entire philosophy section.

Needless to say, your mind will be blown.

And the more you do it, the smaller percentage of books you'll want to read more of, as your taste and judgment refines itself over time.

The scope of philosophy will narrow as you realize just how few heavy hitters are doing most of the philosophical work.

May take a number of sessions, depending on how much time you have and how large the library's selection is.

You can also do this online using Amazon's preview feature, but it's not available for a number of important (and usually older) philosophy books.

Anyway, you'll find this activity encouraging, since like with anything else---there's a lot of crap out there that you don't yet realize is crap. This procedure will quickly give you a real direct sampling of all those books, thereby weeding out the one's that can't compel further reading more than two pages. Make a list of the ones you want to read more of, and you're done!  Works for journals too, but only one page should do for each article. Next library!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization

Just ran across Overman's A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization, and will probably get the hardcover. Check it out here. Added to bibliography.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Self-Referential Analyzer In Stores Now

Actually, naturalism, materialism, and mechanism are all teleological parasites (among many other parasitic behaviors shrouded in never-mentioned self-referential slights of cognitive hand). So next time you're at the pharmacy, look for the Self-Referential Analyzer, to permanently eliminate common philosophical parasites from your intellectual life, and that of your friends and family.

Self-Referential Analyzer: Get one. Be one.

Naturalism as Teleological Parasite

What modern biology reveals to us is the existence of a physical structure that points to or aims at something beyond itself and yet is entirely unconscious. Where have we heard that before? Why, in Aristotle, of course. Moreover, as a blueprint, what this structure points to or aims at specifically is the realization in an individual organism of a certain kind of structure or pattern definitive of the species---that is to say, the realization of a form or essence. "Modern" biology isn't so modern after all; the riffs are different, but underlying the jazzy hipster talk of "information and "software" is the same old squaresville melody of Aristotelian final-formal causality. Modern science, like all rebellious adolescents, has morphed into the father figure it once reviled.

--Slightly redacted from Edward Feser, The Last Superstition, page 255.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Another Magic Talisman

The moderns didn't reject belief in God for resting on blind faith. They falsely accused belief in God of resting on blind faith so that they could justify their rejection of God, and cooked up a new conception of what should count as rational, hoping that the accusation would stick.

--Highly redacted from Edward Feser, The Last Superstition, page 221

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Sociopaths are Epistemologically Equal Too

It's very hard for liberals to maintain their smug pose of moral and rational superiority over traditional religious believers and other non-liberals if they admit that their own ideals are merely one more set of ungrounded prejudices among others.

--Redacted from Edward Feser, The Last Superstition, page 216

Prophetic Criminology

The legislative response is always---always---to crack down on the law-abiding. "
--Commenter john_ell over at the Washington Times